Innovation That Matters

Global innovation spotlight: The Netherlands

Global Innovation Spotlight

From recycled bricks to a system that helps restaurants avoid food waste, discover exciting innovations from the Netherlands

Reflecting our global Springwise readership, we explore the innovation landscape and freshest thinking from a new country each week. This week we are heading to the Netherlands…

The Netherlands Innovation Facts

Global Innovation Index ranking: 6th

Climate targets: 49 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, 95 per cent reduction by 2050

Sustainability issues

Nitrogen pollution – The Netherlands sits behind only the United States as an agricultural exporter. Heavy fertiliser use and large numbers of livestock have led to high levels of  nitrogen oxides in the air and water. In response, the Dutch government has introduced ambitious nitrogen pollution reduction targets which have, in turn, sparked protests by farmers.

Noise pollution – Noise pollution is an underappreciated problem in Europe. The European Environment Agency, estimates that long-term exposure to environmental noise causes 12,000 premature deaths each year. Around Amersterdam’s Schiphol Airport, noise pollution has become such a concern that it has led to plans to reduce the airport’s capacity by 20 per cent.

Plastic pollution – Plastic pollution is an important concern for the Dutch public with one survey finding that 71 per cent of people in the Netherlands support a ban on single-use plastic. But a recent study from the University of Leiden found that 13 kilotonnes of plastic from the Netherlands end up in the oceans each year.

Sector specialisms


Energy and environment


Source: StartupBlink

Three exciting innovations from the Netherlands

Photo source Canva


According to one report, as much as half a pound of food is wasted for every restaurant meal, including from kitchen waste and what’s left on customers’ plates. While some of this can’t be helped (peels, rinds, food that has gone off), there is a lot of scope for improvement. That is the goal of Dutch startup Orbisk, which has developed a computer vision-based system that helps food service operators identify and cut down on waste. Read more

Photo source StoneCycling


According to the UN Environmental Programme, the construction industry accounts for around 11 per cent of total global carbon emissions. Now, Dutch startup StoneCycling is hoping to make a dent in this figure with bricks made from recycled construction debris. The company currently makes recycled bricks containing 60 per cent waste, and in the future expects to bring that figure up to 100 per cent. Read more

Photo source Meatable


Grown from cells taken from unharmed animals, Meatable’s meat is identical in every way to traditionally farmed animal meat with a significant exception – the production process. The harvested cells are used to replicate the natural process of fat and muscle growth in a process that takes only a few weeks. By contrast, it takes around three years for a cow to grow to a point where it can be slaughtered. Read more

Words: Matthew Hempstead

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